Malcolm MacLean exits 303Lowe

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Malcolm Maclean.jpgThe Perth industry's run of senior creative cutbacks continued on Friday with the shock news that 303Lowe has retrenched highly regarded senior writer, Malcolm MacLean.

MacLean (left) has been with the agency for over 12 years, being originally recruited from The Brand Agency to head up a digital department in 2000.

According to an agency statement MacLean is a casualty of the "challenging market conditions... as 303Lowe restructures and builds closer ties to its Sydney resources."

MacLean is 303Lowe's most high profile creative and has been the agency's biggest industry contributor, having been a past President and long serving committee member of the Perth Advertising and Design Club (PADC). In his first year at 303 he put the agency on the map for digital work, winning Gold and Best of Show at the PADC Awards and a Cyber Lion finalist at Cannes for an project. MacLean was also on the only non-director on the management team when 303 successfully reinvented itself after the departure of co-founder Stephen Wells and ECD Mike Edmonds.
With a wealth of national brand experience, MacLean was the creative lead on the 'It's gotta be Red' rebranding campaign for Red Rooster and 'Convert your thinking' campaign for Cash Converters, plus the Effie Award winning launch of the Player sports betting brand for the TAB. He has brought many creative awards to the 303Lowe trophy cabinet and over the past 18 months managed to win both the The West Australian Caxton Competition and the Adshel Creative Challenge trip to the New York Festivals.

MacLean will be returning to 303Lowe in a freelance role in January but is available for job offers, freelance work, or lunch by emailing or phone 041 904 5769.


WTF said:

I'm stunned.

Mick Colliss said:

I'm also stunned.

Rose Bay Address said:

"as 303Lowe restructures and builds closer ties to its Sydney resources."

Does this mean that 303 is moving what was Perth work over east by stealth?

Disappointed said:

Extremely disappointed. The best creative I have come accross.

Paul S said:

Shit news.

Noellene D'Andrea said:

Remember the old adage " One door closes, another one opens!"
Believe in yourself and be ready for a new challenge. Good Luck!

Davey said:

The way you handled all this, Mal, including being part of our Christmas party without saying a word about your situation, proved beyond doubt that you are a class act ... and one of the nicest guys in the industry.

It has been a privilege (and a million laughs) working with you for the past ten years.


Shocked said:

Wow, that's just awful. It seems like if you're a senior writer in Perth right now, your days are numbered. Why is it always the creatives who go (you know, the people who actually make the product) instead of the suits - the ones who should be bringing in business but obviously aren't. Mal deserves better than this, and FFS, the day before Christmas? At least some of the big agencies over east have a heart and ask staff to take a minor short term pay cut to stave this sort of thing off before resorting to axing people. 303 could learn a thing or two from them. Shame it will be too late for poor Mal. Merry fucking Christmas indeed.

Nat C said:

Onwards and upwards Mal. You're not only a huge creative talent but also one of the nicest people in this industry. I'm so glad we got to work together on LWP, IKEA and Red Rooster. All the very best. Always.

Mick colliss said:

Didn't 303 just win transperth? Or do we still have it and that was all a big dream. Like when Bobby was killed on Dallas?

Toothsucker said:

Given it was Mal's role, as opposed to Mal himself, that was made redundant, I wonder what Red Rooster, Cash Converters and LWP will make of 303Lowe basically saying that their businesses don't need a highly-experienced, dedicated Senior Creative in Perth anymore?

Ross said:

Ever since Mal shared this news with me, I've wondered what comment I'd make when the story came to light. To be honest, I can't think of anything to say that would be fitting, because for once, words completely fail me. So here's a story instead.

When I first worked with Mal at The Brand Agency, I found the going quite tough. (Many of you in the industry will understand why.) One of the accounts we worked on was Drug Aware and one of the briefs we received was to produce a press campaign that dissuaded 20 somethings from smoking Marijuana. We did, what I thought, was a pretty nice job. I was especially pleased with my art direction. And even more pleased when it won two art direction Silvers in that year's PADCs. What I didn't know (and only found out years later) was that when Mal asked Pete Nelson if it could be entered, he was turned down. So Mal entered the campaign and paid the entry fee himself. This was a year when The Brand Agency had very limited awards success, so those two silver's were quite important to the department and as a consequence made my work life much more bearable.

I think this sums up Mal. His ability to produce award winning creative is only half the story. He is also incredibly decent and fair minded. If he sees an injustice, he does what he can to rectify it. I was the lucky beneficiary of this quality then, and have been many times since.

Bob Ajob said:

Sad to hear the news Mal. You'll be OK. You've got the talent and charm to move on.

Uncle Murray said:

Strange how things follow patterns.

You have been the back bone of those ad companies since you first graduated.

Once again the bottom line is taken rather than treating people with respect for what they do and have done.

You can join your uncle who finish work after 27 years with his bauxite miner on similiar circumstances.

All the best for the future "Nil Barstardo carborumdon" don't let the bastards grind you down.

T said:

Shocked to hear the news Mal. I propose a toast ..." to Mal and the road that lies ahead, time to take the high road"

Onward and upward said:

Classy words on a classy guy Ross.

Here Here said:

As Alun Bartsch wrote on Mal's Facebook: "Sorry to hear this Malcolm, but you ain't the first and you won't be the last. Happened to me, and most everyone I know in the business at some time. Shit always works out, talent always wins out. Onwards and upwards."

Dav said:

Keep bringing dignity to our industry, Mal. God knows it needs it.

Mark Zagar said:

Crikey, I can't believe it. What I do believe is the outpouring of support for you Malcolm. You have many friends and much respect. I'm sure you'll be back in another saddle in no time, enjoy the break mate.

Used To Work There said:

What a Lowe blow. When I worked there, Mal was first in (he unlocked the place) and always took his laptop home whereas Rich and other younger creatives could only cope with having one job on their desk at any time and spat the dummy if someone tried to give them more work to do that wasn't a "creative opportunity". How does this make economic sense? Al and Lindsay should hang their heads in shame.

How Lowe can they go? said:

All retrenchments are bad but this one has hit me pretty hard - Mal is one of the most decent people in the industry and nothing but a pleasure to work with. I know he will bounce back, he's too talented not to. 303's loss will be someone else's gain. Kick some ass, Mal.

Simmers said:

I was very shocked to hear your news. You are a beautiful person to work with Mal and an outstanding Creative. You always went the extra mile to see jobs finished even though your workload was huge! You and Ross were a great team and I am so glad I had the opportunity to work with you. What on earth was 303Lowe thinking of!

I wish you all the luck in finding something new.

Take Care and keep us posted - here's to 2013!

Simone x

huh said:

Sucks. But thats the shit nature of our industry. No one is safe from the knife. No one.

Charming said:

Used to work there, I've worked with Rich, and yes, some of the other creatives and can assure you he never spat the dummy at being asked to tackle more than one job (he wouldn't last 5 minutes in Perth with that attitude) but by all means,don't let the truth get in the way of your chance to stick the knife in under the guise of supporting Mal. For shame, really.

Hannah said:

Mal, it was an absolute pleasure to work with you at 303. You set an example that more creatives should strive to follow, with your integrity, hard work and dedication to every job bag that hit your desk. I'll miss your witty out of offices! Good luck in your next adventure. 2013 is your year!

I've been there before Malcolm - several times in fact.

I don't know if your experiences echo mine, but some of my previous agency jobs were an enormous blank canvas to me - the most beautiful thing you could give a creative soul...

...and others were just a chair with cuffs near the ankles - keeping my hands free to work for someone else's benefit more than my own.

If you've lost the former Mal, you have my condolences. If you've lost the latter, then you're free and you know it.

Either way, there are more possibilities open to you now than before, though some may take some digging to uncover.

I hope you make great use of them.

Best of luck!


couldnt agree more said:

Mal, there is no doubt you will have offers on your door step already. Having worked there and seen some of your lesser likes head off to Asia, build up an ego and come back to Perth to make a statement for themselves, not their agency is pretty typical of todays times. Good luck mate - you won't need it!

The Wonderer said:

Sadly, this reflects a shift in power in agencies from Senior Creatives to Planners and Digital Strategists. The bean counters find it hard to justify two people doing essentially the same job (insight) and in Perth it seems it's the creatives that are losing out. Come up with a decent strategy and it seems any old content will do for filling. Short term it makes sense. But when everyone has played digital catch-up and the channels are on a level playing field, once again it is the quality of the content that matters. Scratch away at the short-termism of UGC and the "conversation" and you find the enduring buzzword is storytelling. 303Lowe must be hoping that having two top-notch ACDs to sharpen up the ideas and an attentive Head of Copy over east to make sure the TOV remains consistently accurate, will be enough to patch over the enormous hole left by Mal's incredible experience, creativity and dedication. Next year's output will show if they're right.

Cutting said:

Mal - Bummer mate, been there, as we all have, and it sucks for a bit, and then the next opportunity comes along and away we go. They lose.

Ross - Brilliant Story, well told, Mal has obviously rubbed off.

303 - Amend your policy of delivering bad news on Xmas Eve. It's f#cked and lacks respect.

Benek said:

Sad news!!!

Name said:

If this was a film, all the other agencies in Perth would now block book Mal as freelance for 2013, denying 303 the chance to get his ample skills back on the cheap in the New Year with no commitment to the man himself.

Profit of Doom said:

If this was a film, Mal would team up with Ray Van Kempen, call their agency Yang and take on the dark forces who have obviously hijacked 303. The shoot-out pitch on Ikea press would be worth the entrance fee alone.

Statto said:

To The Wanderer...Last time I checked (about 2 minutes ago) Mal had 3 times as many pieces of work featured on Best Ads (33) as one of the "top-notch ACDs" you mention (10) and twice as many as the Head of Copy (16). Clearly this was not simply a creative decision. Maybe he was no longer on-brand?

Chantelle said:

Mal, you were one of the reasons I joined 303, and one of the reasons it was so difficult to leave. You are a gentleman, respectful, hilarious and a great creative!
All the best for the future. I am sure it will be bright.
Beautiful story Ross. I mean I have heard a LOT of your stories, but never that one! It was gorgeous and just shows why so many people will miss Mal in at 303Lowe.
Here's to a great 2013, Mal!

Warrick Sears said:

So if long term contribution and exceptional creative talent don't equal job security where does that leave us as an industry?

Mal, you are a legend. I don't know you that well personally, but I know you by your work and your reputation. If there is anything I can do to help you out in the future hit me up.

I wish I was a cynic, sadly I'm just a realist. said:

People seem to think this industry is about making good ads. It's really not, it's about making money. Or it is, if you're Mal - and everyone else's - boss. When you're a junior or midweight, you're cheap, keen, have no commitments and work all the hours God gave to man. Then somewhere along the line, you get (more) expensive. Pop out a kid or two. Occasionally can't work back due to the family.

Now the CFO looks a spreadsheet. He has to lose $200,000 (or he lost a client, or he's about to go through an expensive divorce etc and needs to free up cash). It's a simple calculation. He can fire four mid-weights who work around the clock or one senior staff member who whilst loyal and dependable, can never, and doesn't want to, do the work of four people. It's an easy decision. And no, it's not about the work. It's about the agency making the most money with the least overheads. Most agencies would chose fairly decent work that keeps a client happy and more $ for the agency over international award winning work that costs more to pay expensive creatives when the client doesn't give a damn. It just costs the agency owner. Loyalty means nothing, experience means nothing, work and awards means nothing, seniority means nothing. It's a business decision.

How do I know all this? I've had CFOs of two big agencies (not Perth) confirm what I already thought in how they make these calls. Long story short, if you're senior and make a decent income to the point where they could get multiple juniors to fill your role, your days are numbered. The more $ you make, the bigger a target you are.

This is not cynicism. This is the truth. Ask Des, Tom, Andrew, Mal. But who cares, it's only advertising. God knows there's more to life. If you've made decent money, hopefully it's gone on your mortgage and not up your nose. Chuck it in, enjoy your paid off house, get to know your kids again and appreciate the fact that now you can join an industry where you have a life and some balance. It ain't all bad. Chin up Mal.

Back to Reality said:

Nice post, but you only paint half the picture. Senior Creatives don't have to work all the hours God sends them, mainly because they get it right earlier more often. They don't need highly-paid ACDs, ECDs and Heads of Art or Copy to oversee their work because they are experienced enough to know when an idea is good - and have the craft skills necessary to make it better. Senior creatives are - and always have been - the lifeblood of the local industry, effectively doing the jobs of four other creative roles already - and that's before you add in the strategic insight that is now being farmed out to entire departments of planners. It is highly paid (and highly-billable) ECDs, ACDs Art/Copy Heads and expansive planning departments that are the unnecessary encumbrance - imported by management who think WA can be better serviced using the east coast model. Sure, it ain't all bad. But it certainly is a disgrace that local senior creatives are still losing their jobs despite agencies successfully retaining existing business, winning new accounts and hiring seniors in other departments. Fists up, Mal

Logan's Run said:

A recent IPA survey in the UK revealed that 45.1 per cent of those working in agencies are 30 or under and that the average age of a media agency staffer is 31. Just 5.5 per cent of agency employees are over 50. Makes you wonder why so much collective effort is geared towards getting young people into the industry instead of helping older people stay employed

Realist, not cynic said:

Back to reality, you don't need to justify the role of a senior creative to me - I am one. I know exactly what we have to offer, and everything you said is true. And yet the jobs continue to go. The people who need to be convinced are the ones to sign the cheques.

This is not a West coast problem - this is happening everywhere. At one point Clem's Sydney had at least 3 CDs/ECDs and then a bunch of mid weight and junior teams. No seniors, because they cut into the CDs salary and who would risk their job hiring someone who threatens theirs and takes up the budget for salary?

Creative departments only have so much of a salary allocation. The CDs know that if you hire a bunch of cheap juniors, there's more money for them. In fact, some actually get bonuses based on how many salaries they 'free up' (read, 'fire') in their department. That's right, they get rewarded by freeing up budgets, then working existing staff into the ground. So if you're a little confused by the fact your company's just landed business, yet you've lost senior creatives and now you're not getting home til 11 most nights, look at your ECDs parking spot. New Beemer?

You may get a little shadenfreude from this though, most CDs days are numbered too for exactly the same reason. Eventually there's someone younger, cheaper, hungrier, better and even more ruthless than them coming up the ranks. Happy New Year!

April Fool's Joke said:

When I first read this I thought it was some sort of April Fool's joke. I must have misread it, surely I was hallucinating...not Malcolm, of all people! How could one of the most successful creatives in Perth Advertising possibly lose his job when the agency has just won new business and retained a major government account?! I was absolutely gob smacked...literally struck dumb! When I say successful, I'm not just talking about awards won, accounts won, accounts retained, I'm talking about personal success and integrity. Could there be a nicer, more humble, more genuine person in advertising in Perth?! I think not. Shame 303, shame. It will take years to get over this massive PR blunder. Let's see how good your planners are now minus that gigantic talent in their midst!

Big Boy said:

Just want to qualify the statement about "In his first year at 303 he put the agency on the map for digital work, winning Gold and Best of Show at the PADC Awards and a Cyber Lion finalist at Cannes for an project"

The ‘Big Boy Briefs’ viral campaign was launched in June 2001. It was emailed to 12,000 Adultshop subscribers only.

Was seen globally by around 6.2m people and was featured on TV and radio shows including Rove Live in Australia, Tarrant in the UK and Howard Stern in the US generating offline exposure of approximately 16 million.

When you consider it was 2001, "on the map" is a bit of an understatement. Bloody Visionary...

He also plays a f%^king good bag pipe.....

Puzzled said:

Whatever happened to "last in, first out"? In 303's case it would have been cheaper and much more PR friendly simply to have chosen some other senior creative for the boot based on how long he had been at the agency, conveniently side-stepping any discussion about his creative talent. This path they have chosen defies logic to anyone outside the agency and suggests some kind of witch hunt or grudge.

Spencer Battista said:

Good luck Mal, I agree with all comments above, again your another victim of a Perth shrinking market.. Are we all missing the bigger picture here, the fact that clients are heading east both GOV and Private... Heath Dept for example if that was at 303 would this happen, WA Tourism Commission if that was still with Market Force would Silvana and the rest that where laid off be there... We must as a Perth Industry come together as one body to prove to local GOV that we are a great WA Advertising industry. I invite all advertising heads to consider this, and to the rest that work in this great industry for you to continue to prove we are the best by producing excellent pieces of communication for all your clients. All the best Mal. Cheers Spencer Battista President of the PADC

Dean said:

Depressing news. I wish I could post a pie chart in the comments. An amazing talent like Mal will be fine. Onwards and upwards.

Back to Reality said:

Realist, Not Cynic,
Good points. Interesting what's happened to the Clems experiment ( Agree that CD-days are numbered - especially in Perth. After all, why would you pay a premium for someone to sit around all day saying yay or nay when you could retain a senior creative who actually works for the business. Of course, following the collective Night of the Long Copy, that is no longer an option. Agencies are rapidly filling with inexperienced juniors and craftless midweights who need direction. The local CDs have created the very situation that justifies their own existence at a time when everyone else is questioning it. Clever guys.

Pot Calling the Kettle Black said:

It doesn't get any worse than this. Apart from the untimely deaths of Dave Upson and John Davis, this is the worst shock in Perth advertising for the last 20 years. How Lowe can you go?! :-(

Heresay said:

Apparently, when Mal lifts the back of his kilt up, there's now a "3" tattooed on each buttock

that'll learn 'em said:

*unlikes the 303Lowe Facebook page*

john Ilian said:

Extremely callous.

I recruited Mal to work with Craig Buchanan at FCB Shorter during the late eighties/early nineties (it was a small but potent agency that included Simon McQuoid, Wayne Vinten, Ric Cairns, Cecily O'Neill and later (when it acquired JMA O&M), Steve Browning - plus as an intern, Reed Collins).

Mal was then, and remains today, exceptionally talented, gracious, funny and humble.

Hire him if you can.

John Ilian.

Friend from the Past said:


I'm sorry this happened to you, but speaking from experience within this tissue papered "SO CALLED" Perth Advertising Industry , I was surprised at first…….. but not now after looking at the bigger picture of what's going on in WA.

I worked with you for a few months in the mid 90's - F-me that long ago, then moved to New York to really sell my ass. After years of being fucked raw by this industry, I called it a day and opened a nursery in Tasmania. - best thing I ever did.

There are so many current flavours speaking their mind, the burned out ex pats, the 20's somethings that will do anything to make a name - even take creative advice from a suit? and the ones that worked close to you and clients that have nothing but respect.
It's really good to see so many people supporting you and it's good for all your friends to vent their feelings for you. Good creatives will always make (THEM) money - 303 - seriously small time - get ya ass over to the US - your will be a hit

Clean break - clean start - thanks for being an inspiration to a newbie back in my day.

Erin said:

Mal, I am extremely saddened to hear this news after you have been such a devoted, hard working employee at 303, and usually the first one into work.

Thank you so much for always being a pleasure to work with on my clients. You were always on time, on brand and on brief.

P.S - I'll always be available to doggy sit :)

Ex-Eastern said:

Stop comparing the East and WA. There's no such thing to called the "BIG" agencies. The whole business and clients modal are similar. WA is just small for creative industries and have a quite few talented peeps. It's growing slowly. Enough said.

Disgusted said:

Mal, as you can clearly see, you are so highly regarded and respected among the local advertising community, we know you will land on your feet and go on to bigger and better things.

Unfortunately this callous and short-sighted decision by 303 doesnt come as a surprise. Leaving 303 was the best decision I have ever made.

deano said:

What's worn under Mal's Kilt?
Nothing: it's all in perfect working order!

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